Worried by the increasing insecurity in the country, the Senate yesterday, reiterated its call for the establishment of state police if the problem must be nipped in the bud, just as it condemned in very strong terms, the killings nationwide.
To tackle the unfortunate occurrences, particularly in Zamfara State, the Senate resolved to set aside N10billion in the 2019 budget as intervention fund to address the problem of insecurity in the state and cater for the Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, and other person's affected by the activities of armed bandits in the state.
It also called on the Federal Government to set up an ad-hoc committee to be known as Presidential Initiative on Zamfara State, PIZAMS, with a 10-year life span to manage the said fund and subsequent allocations.
This is coming on a day, 33 persons were killed in three local government areas of Katsina State, 11 of them, armed bandits.
This came as the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, met yesterday, to fashion out ways the Federal Government can tackle the rising insecurity in the country.
Spokesman of ACF, Muhammed Biu, who confirmed the meeting to Vanguard, said that members were deeply concerned over rising insecurity in parts of the North and had taken time to fashion out an agenda to help checkmate the trend.
Also, Sultan of Sokoto pledged to galvanize Northern traditional rulers to support the Police in fighting armed banditry and other crimes in the country.
Similarly, Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir el-Rufai has called on the Adara and Fulani communities in Kajuru in the state to resist the temptation of retaliation against each other, saying it was not a solution to resolving their differences.
However, elder statesmen, Balarabe Musa, ABC Nwosu and Chekwas Okorie, said that the killings in the country were avoidable, noting that government has not done enough to check the development.
Senate condemns increasing insecurity
Resolutions of the Senate were sequel to a motion by Senator Kabiru Marafa (APC, Zamfara Central), who said that the security in Zamfara State, had deteriorated and demands urgent national action and legislative intervention.
According to him, heinous activities of different categories of mindless criminals and killers in the state such as armed bandits, cattle rustlers, kidnappers etc, were creating serious humanitarian crisis in the state that must be addressed urgently.
Marafa said: "Since 2011, as a result of the unabated activities of the criminals in the state, roughly an estimated 11,000 males have been killed who left behind, average of 22,000 widows and by extension, 44,000 orphans. These figures are just by conservative estimates because the figures are far, far higher.
"The bandits, especially heavily armed kidnappers operate with little or no resistance in Gusau, the capital of the state, making less than 75 per cent of people in Zamfara not to sleep in their houses."
Saraki on State Police
Speaking, Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki who presided said: "From the contributions we have had, I think it is key that we begin to look at the problem and long-term solutions. I think what we did on Tuesday in trying to strengthen the funding of the police and what we have before us, the Police Reform Bill, which would be laid today, the sooner we can pass that, it will help us in addressing the insecurity challenges.
"But more importantly is that we must go back to what a lot of us have been advocating, that there is need for us to have state or community police. It is the way forward. Otherwise, we will continue to run into these problems. In the area of oversight, there is a lot also that we need to do to ensure that we hold the security agencies accountable. And we need to move very fast in this area."
Earlier in his contribution, the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who commended Marafa for always bringing the deteriorating security situation in Zamfara to the front burner of discourse in the Senate, stressed the need for state police and decentralization of the present police structure.
Also in his contribution, Senate Chief Whip, Senator Olusola Adeyeye (APC, Osun Central), noted that the problem with the country was the constitution itself, which by its provisions, puts on ground, an over centralized federation or better put, unitary system as against federal system of government.
Adeyeye noted that if the problematic constitution was not amended by way of removing police from exclusive list to concurrent list to pave way for state police, criminality at local levels will continue to increase.
Arewa Consultative Forum BOT meets, sets agenda for FG
On the ACF's meeting, its Spokesman, Muhammed Biu, said: "We met as the BOT of ACF in Kaduna today (yesterday) and we discussed a number of measures, which we hope to discuss with the government to find lasting solution to the security challenges facing us as a nation.
"We are not going to make public our policy thrust until the National Executive Council of ACF, NEC, which is the implementing arm of the group, meets Wednesday next week to see what we have proposed and the way forward."
Meanwhile, as the ACF BOT ends its meeting, the Northern Elders Forum, Vanguard gathered last night, is getting ready to meet in Zaria (Kaduna State) today, to also x-ray the wave of insecurity across the North and parts of Nigeria.
Convener of the NEF, Prof Ango Abdullahi, told Vanguard on the phone that at the meeting, the NEF members would carry out a holistic review of the security situation in Nigeria and make its position known to the world.
Sultan of Sokoto
In Sokoto, the Sultan, spoke in his Palace in Gida Sarkin Musulmi, Sokoto when the Inspector General of Police, IGP, Mohammed Adamu, in company of the Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal; Deputy Governor, Alh. Mannir Dan'iya and other top police officers and government functionaries paid him a courtesy visit.
While promising to use the platform of the Forum of Northern Traditional Rulers to rally support of all the Traditional Rulers from Northern Nigeria to fight armed banditry and other crimes in the region, the Sultan equally aligned himself with the IGP's policy direction of using the tool of Community Policing and Partnership to combat crime.
The Sultan also urged Nigerians from all walks of life to support the Police in the fight against all manner of crimes in the Country.
Thereafter, the IGP visited the Police Headquarters in the state where he charged the officers and men of the command to be up and doing in fighting armed banditry and other crimes in the state, promising to do everything within his power to provide them with adequate working tools and healthy working environment.
Reprisal attacks, no solution --El Rufai
Governor El-Rufai, spoke at an Internally Displaced Persons Camp, IDP, in Maraban Kajuru, where he directed relevant agencies to reassess the condition of the IDPs, who are from different communities in order to enable them return to their communities soon.
"What we saw is unfortunate, but we must speak out and tell our people the right thing to be done. An eye for eye is not a solution to the vicious cycles of killings and will complicate and undermine collective efforts.
"Our admonition is simple. If Fulani or Adara communities have complaints of killings or attacks, they should report and allow security agencies and government to take up the administration of justice. If these communities resort to taking the laws into their own hands, it will not work. That is not the solution.
"Security personnel and assets cannot be in every inch of our state. Communities must stop this abnormality of taking the laws into their own hands. It has never worked and will never work," he said.
Malam El-Rufai frowned at the politicisation of security challenges that can be solved with goodwill and law-abiding conduct by all parties.
"As a government, we will continue to collaborate with security agencies, traditional and religious institutions in peace building, but we will be frank to our communities. They have lived peacefully before this mistrust and they can rekindle the glorious past by simply not taking the laws into their own hands and doing away with jungle justice.
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"On our own part, we will do our very best in protecting lives and property. We will also not shy away from applying the law to anyone found complicit in the violent communal conflicts, irrespective of their status, religion, ethnicity or political persuasions. Let us cherish all lives. No life is more precious than another life," he said.
Balarabe Musa, Nwosu, Okorie offer solutions
Former Governor of the old Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, said: "The issue of insecurity ravaging the nation at the moment is unfortunate but it is avoidable. And from what is happening in the country, I don't see anything tangible being done."
Also, former Minister of Health, Prof. ABC Nwosu, who lamented that the killings, said: "Too many people have died and drastic measures need to be taken. We want to see result, we don't want to hear excuses, as there is need to quickly rethink the process of policing the country. It is very painful because the first responsibility of government is to secure the country but it is clear there is failure in this regard. Citizens should not be afraid of their lives in this country. Government should do everything they can to stop it as it is the duty of government to protect its people.
"It was the government that protected them less than a month ago during elections. So it is an indictment on the part of the government. They held presidential election and the governorship elections and the highest votes were observed in these regions, just as soon as the elections were over, that the largest number of kidnapping and killings is coming from there is wrong."
Reacting, Chairman of United Progressive Party, UPP, Chief Chekwas Okorie, said: "It is so unfortunate that the past and present governments have not realised the need for state police. If we have State and Community policing, our security challenges would be drastically reduced.
"The people perpetrating crime came from somewhere and they are known, even when they go elsewhere to amass so much wealth, the community police would inform the federal agents of a sudden change in somebody's lifestyle. And if such hint is in every locality nationwide, there will be less criminal activities and banditry.
"But our government has repeatedly shied away from the truth and the obvious fact. To think that the central police we have would be enough to handle crime and banditry in rural communities in a country as large as Nigeria where unemployment is very high and poverty is high is a farce.
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"If we are described as the poverty headquarters of the world, what goes with it is the crime headquarters of the world because poverty and crime go together. The earlier we address it, the better for us. So, it is an administrative change if President Buhari can consider it without referring to the constitution because in some states where vigilante groups were legitimately accepted crime has reduced. If you make it more formal it would stem crime drastically."
33 killed in Kastina
This is coming on a day, 33 persons were killed in three Local Government Areas of Katsina State, 11 of them, armed bandits.
It was gathered from Sabuwa and Batsari Local Government Areas of the state that 18 were killed in a clash between members of vigilante group and armed bandits while another four were killed by the bandits respectively.
A source in Jibia Local Government Area of the state, confirmed that 11 of the bandits were killed by villagers, while attempting to escape from their hideout and forest where they carry out their heinous activities.
The source said the bandits were moving out from their hideouts and forest on their motorcycles when they were killed by the villagers, adding that villagers who knew the bandits attacked them while they were trying to escape through the villages around 10a.m., to 12noon on Tuesday.
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According to another source in Batsari LGA of the state, armed bandits launched a reprisal Tuesday night, killing four in the area.
The source said three females were taken into the forest while 10 others were hospitalized after the incident that occurred in Yar-Gamji and Ruma villages of Batsari LGA.
It was further gathered that bandits launched an attack on Sabina LGA around 4a.m., Tuesday, shooting sporadically and leaving 18 persons dead and few others with injuries.